Saturday, December 12, 2009

Being Loved

Everyone wants to be loved, except maybe dentists, Voldemort and Greenpeace campaigners. Most people can't imagine that IT people care what people think about us (and, unfortunately, they're probably right, at least historically). But now that IT is becoming more of a strategic partner to the program side of the house and not just a pure service and support team, how IT gets along with other parts of an organization or company is more important than ever.

The more IT is seen as an ally and not an authoritarian foe, the more we can be involved in high impact, wide-ranging projects that span departments. Don't get me wrong, support and service are still key. In fact, doing these extremely well is what gets your foot in the door. Providing excellent support to all staff through friendly, accurate, and quick responses builds trust. Having very mature and functional systems and a well-trained user-base allows you to move to a higher level of support, to the providing solutions relationship plane. (We've actually taken the words "support" and "help" out of all job titles and replaced it with "solutions").

If users feel well supported and happy with their relationship with IT in the basic areas, such as email, printing, networking, file sharing, etc. then they will be comfortable with partnering with you on larger projects that more directly support the core mission. And once you have gained their trust, encourage users through constant communication to ask IT for help in all their technology work, even if they think it's too minor.

Everyone likes to think they're busy, but I encourage my staff to tell people that we're not that busy, even when we really are. I've found that if people think you're really busy then they'll not ask you for things unless they're an emergency. For some projects, the emergency level is too late. Being brought in at the beginning of a project is the only way to ensure proper participating and success.

So, to summarize:
1. A close relationship between IT and staff fosters understanding and cooperation.
2. IT can help with projects outside of the standard support role.
3. Staff can use the IT Department's expertise to develop ways to work more efficiently.
4. IT staff have more job satisfaction, higher morale, individual growth, and gain a broader perspective of the impact of their work.
5. IT is considered more of a strategic partner in program planning.

Keywords for IT staff: flexibility, follow-through, listening, attention, understanding and friendliness.

Let's get out there and do the little things excellently and have a bigger impact overall!

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